This July has been hotter than… well, July. And when you’re trying to beat the heat finding the right food and drink can be a challenge.
They need to be light but satisfying,tasty but not overpowering. As ever, we're here to help - presenting the Erudus rundown of dishes to enjoy when the temperature soars (but also when it goes back down to 'traditional' British summer levels)...
Cold Watermelon Soup
What: A chilled soup with a fruit base - some varieties being a play on the Spanish classic gazpacho. Though recipes vary, nearly all include watermelon, honey, a herb such as mint, lemon or lime, salt, garlic, cucumber, onion, and white or red wine vinegar.
Why: Watermelon is a summer fruit, but it also has a refreshing, palette cleansing quality that is particularly enjoyable in hot weather. Plus, when else can you eat cold soup?
Tip: Add a kick to your soup with tabasco.
What: Exactly what it sounds like - chicken legs, wings or even breast marinated, coated or seasoned with a spice rub or a barbeque sauce and cooked over coals. Eat yours flavoured with Portuguese piri-piri, Caribbean jerk spice, or spicy, sugary Deep South barbecue sauce.
Why: Aside from the humble barbeque being one of summer’s top activities, many sauce and marinade recipes originate from hot-weather countries like the Caribbean and Mexico.
Tip: Use Coca Cola in a sticky and delicious barbecue sauce.
What: A famous gin-based fruit cup (though it can also be classed as a liqueur) first produced in England in 1823. Infused with spices and fruit, it’s usually served with lemonade, mint and chopped fruit - cucumber, strawberry and apple being the most popular choices.
Why: Pimms is the drink of choice at iconic British summer events like Wimbledon, the Chelsea Flower Show, and Henley Royal Regatta. It practically is British summer.
Tip: Instead of the usual fruit serve your Pimms with blueberries and raspberries. It’ll look pretty too!
What: A cold creamy salad widely believed to have originated in Germany, and often consisting of boiled potatoes, onion, chives or parsley, and celery held together with a mayonnaise-based sauce.
Why: It’s a barbeque staple - the perfect accompaniment to warm, smoky meat, and unlike most salads, it’s easy to portion out at a buffet.
Tip: Use sour cream instead of mayonnaise when creating your sauce.
Pasta with mint pesto
What: A twist on the classic cold Italian sauce, in which mint (rather than basil) is blended with garlic, olive oil, parmesan, salt and either pine nuts, peanuts or almonds, and served with penne, rigatoni, or farfalle.
Why: Pasta is usually seen as a heavy dish, but pesto is a light sauce - made even more refreshing with the addition of mint. A meal that’s suitably filling without being stodgy.
Tip: Mix in some peas with your pasta for extra pizazz.
What: Asparagus drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with seasoning, garlic and parmesan then roasted in the oven or grilled under a heat to give it a crunchy, flavourful crust.
Why: In the UK asparagus season runs from May till the end of June, meaning that the best time to eat it is during the summer months.
Tip: Turn this tasty side-dish into a meal by putting a poached egg on top.
What: Tequila, triple sec, lime juice shaken with ice and then strained into a glass with salt on the rim. It goes back at least as far as 1936 when an American newspaper editor wrote of discovering the cocktail in Tijuana, Mexico.
Why: Aside from it’s balmy Mexican origins, the margarita is sharp, refreshing, and unlike most cocktails can be made by the jug - perfect for lazy summer evenings.
Tip: Shake, never stir - so that ingredients can be fully incorporated, chilled and diluted.
What: A traditional English dessert that probably originated from Eton public school in the early 20th century. It consists of whipped cream and meringue mixed with fruit - any fruit can be used but strawberries are the traditional choice.
Why: Eton mess is served at the annual Eton-Harrow cricket match - a truly summer occasion, when the time is right for ripe British berries.
Tip: Add a dash of ginger cordial or pomegranate juice for a twist on this classic.
What: Sausage, weiner, frankfurter - whatever your preference, it goes in a sliced bread bun and is served with the likes of sauerkraut, onions ketchup and mustard. Originally a German dish, it has become intrinsically American over the past 100 years.
Why: They evoke images of funfairs on hot summer nights and ball games in the sun. And though often cooked in brine they can easily be slung on a barbeque.
Tip: Top with celery salt for a unique and moreish flavor.